When Do We Arrive?

I’ve been thinking a lot about arriving. I wonder when I am going to arrive in South Africa, I wonder when I will arrive in heaven one day, and I wonder when I am going to be fully mature in my faith.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4

As a task-oriented worker, my hope during a project is the completion of that project. I push through trials and setbacks with the determination of finishing the goal in front of me.

Throughout my life, this mindset has given others comfort in knowing that I finish the tasks assigned to me and will work quickly to complete it. For my whole life, this characteristic was always admonished by those I worked alongside.

I have recently seen how this mindset has also caused me trouble and pain.

I was sitting at a round table, on a Wednesday morning looking at all the women who were sitting with me and we’re talking about our Bible study lesson for the week. On average these women were at least 40 years older than me and yet, we were still relating and discussing the ways sin still causes us to slip up and how much more we need to depend on praying. I have been following Christ for roughly three years, but all of these women have at least three decades of pursuing their relationship with God on me, and yet I understood and could see how we wrestled with sin in similar areas of our lives.

This realization was both uplifting and discouraging to me all at the same time.

It was comforting to know I wasn’t alone in the ways that I was struggling with sin, but in the same breath, I also wondered if these women were my future. Would I still be in the same wrestling match for the next 20-30 years with little progress to show?

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I had hoped and longed for the day that I would be fully complete and mature. Now that fantasy day in my mind was threatened, and I despaired at the thought that I wouldn’t get to be complete, my task would never be finished. That was until I was reminded through a different conversation that no one is complete until we get to heaven. That my joy is not in the imaginary version of me where I am a perfect reflection of Christ. Although the day I arrive in heaven is sure to be a glorious one, if I focus too much on accomplishing the result then what did I do with all the time in between? What do I miss out on experiencing if I think of the result as the only day worthwhile of rejoicing in?

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

What I discredit is the promise in Philippians 1:6, He is continually transforming me. That each day I pursue and deepen in my relationship with God, I am becoming more and more like Him. I am a work in progress and each day the Spirit is shining through me more and more. I tend to focus so much on the kind of woman I will be in 20-30 years, and I disregard the beautiful work that He is doing in me each day.

When I had set out to start support raising, I was fixated on what it will be like when I arrive back in the Johannesburg airport. I imagined who would be there to pick me up, what would be the first thing I had to eat, and I pictured the immense joy that I would feel in being welcomed back with bear hugs and “We missed you”s.

I would fixate so much on this imaginary moment that the joys of support raising were menial and sub-par in comparison. I wasn’t taking the time to focus on the beautiful work that God was doing in and through my life daily. How He is transforming me to be more like Him, and how He is using me in little ways to make His glory known here in Missouri while also preparing me for my future in South Africa.

When I had started support raising, others I respect significantly told me how much support raising would be a blessing to me and how I would not dread support raising but love it and then miss it when it was over. At this moment, it’s hard for me to believe that when I arrive in South Africa, I will miss this season of support raising. But then again, God is continually transforming me, so I can trust that He will help me to see and experience the joy that He has allowed to me to participate in during this season of my faith and transformation.

My prayer going forward is that I would not focus so much on the completion of the task but rather on the beautiful process that He has crafted so uniquely and perfectly for me.

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